Tough Cookies

Christmas isn’t for everyone. The forced merriment and artificial optimism, sour memories that fall short of Hollywood-produced nostalgia, stressful family gatherings topped off by unnecessary expenses; it’s enough to make the most joyful person into a real Scrooge. Even the most committed holiday reveler would struggle to maintain the same level of enthusiasm in this harsh reality. You know what is for everyone, though?

Cookies.

Chocolate cut-out cookies, to be precise, will never disappoint. With a batch of homemade cookies, you can express how you really feel about the holiday season without coming off as a miserly curmudgeon. No one ever said they had to be decked out in colorful sprinkles or intricate icing, so why not keep it simple, classic, and versatile?

This particular recipe may just be a new staple in your repertoire. You’d never know that they’re gluten-free or vegan by their soft, toothsome texture or rich cocoa flavor. The dough comes together quickly, rolls out like a dream, and never judges you for your low spirits.

Like any good cookie dough, this one is as versatile as Christmas carols are grating.

Easily change up the flavor by switching out the extract.

A few tried-and-true additions include:

  • Peppermint extract
  • Almond extract
  • Orange zest or extract
  • Instant coffee powder
  • Coarse or flaky sea salt

No cookie cutters? No problem!

You may need to cut back on the snark without such clear messaging, but you don’t need to forgo a sweet treat altogether. Simply roll out the dough as instructed, then use a sharp knife, pizza cutter, or fluted pastry cutter to slice squares or rectangles of any size. Think of this approach as the dessert equivalent of making crackers, if that procedural reference helps you visualize the steps.

Don’t succumb to the Christmas crazies. Celebrate at your own speed, even if that means staying home and keeping holiday content completely off the program. Just don’t forget to treat yourself while you’re at it. Holidays come and go, but a good recipe for chocolate cut-out cookies is forever.

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Fade To Black Friday

Black Friday is upon us yet again. While it will never be quite the same since the pandemic pushed many frenzied bargain shoppers online and out of stores, such celebrated holiday traditions are unshakable. To some, the thrill of the hunt can be even more joyous than giving or opening this plunder. I salute these people for their tenacity and thrift, while staying cozy in fuzzy slippers and do everything in my power to avoid the crowds.

Is there a better way to do Black Friday?

If you’re on team Stay Home today, welcome to the party! I have an even better prize to share that does proper justice to this dark day.

Straight from the pages of Super Vegan Scoops!, my Brooklyn Blackout Blizzard Cake will give all new meaning to Black Friday that everyone can get behind. It’s been one of the biggest hits from the book for obvious reasons. As an early gift, I’d like to give this one to you and start the festivities on a sweet note. Sure, the weather outside might be frightful, but that’s all the more reason to bundle up inside, blast the heat, and take off the edge with a frozen treat.

What is a Brooklyn Blackout Blizzard Cake?

Sink your fork into a thick slice and close your eyes. This sensation, this euphoric, intoxicated, suddenly blissful feeling you’re experiencing? This isn’t death by chocolate, it’s LIFE by chocolate! The original Brooklyn Blackout Cake, iconic for its jet-black crumb coating and pudding-smothered layers, really does mean well, but doesn’t quite reach the frosty peaks that my ice queen here does. Firm yet supple layers stacked up with a no-churn chocolate custard beckon, reviving jaded chocolate lover with one bite. Kids and adults alike will clamor to help “clean up” the fallen crumbs left behind.

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What’s Old is New Again

Welcome, 2022! New Year, New You?

No thanks. Same you, but make it better than ever.

Veganuary is upon us once again. Millions have already taken part in this month-long initiative to make more compassionate choices by switching to plant-based foods, and no effort is too small. Ideally, the results will be so compelling that participants will go vegan for good, but even one week of abstaining from animal cruelty makes a difference. Need I remind you, even if you don’t care about animal welfare, even if you don’t care about the environmental impact, you should care about your own happiness.

The benefits of a plant-based diet are thoroughly documented. My biggest concern isn’t with health, though. Veganism isn’t a diet, and as such, I feel duty-bound to remind you that there are greater advantages to dumping dairy, eggs, and meat…

Like these cupcakes. Beginning life in 2006 as one of my first recipes ever, my Classic Chocolate Cupcakes have been a runaway hit since day one, and still endure as one of my most popular posts. It’s really a shame, considering the terrible photos and poorly written instructions. Now, almost 15 years later, it’s time to right those wrongs.

Made with basic pantry staples, I always have everything on hand to make a batch at a moment’s notice. In 30 minutes or less, start to finish, you’ve got a party starter ready to celebrate. The results taste so much richer than their humble origins would suggest; moist, tender crumbs with a deep chocolate flavor shine beneath slightly crisped edges.

Can you turn this into a large format layer cake? Absolutely! Just double the ingredients and divide the batter equally between two lightly greased 8-inch round pans. Bake for 20 – 24 minutes, and you’re well on your way to a majestic, towering stack of chocolate decadence. Same goes for a triple layer cake, if you really want to reach for the stars.

What about gluten-free options? You’ve got it! I’ve tested this recipe with Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 gluten-free baking flour with excellent results. Go ahead and use your flavor alternative blend if you prefer something else. Everyone’s invited here!

Everyone needs a tried-and-true, foolproof chocolate cake recipe in their arsenal, and this one’s mine. I hope it can be yours, too. Even if you’ve never tried your hand at baking, even if you’re new to the plant-based world, this is one solid formula that will always do you right. Veganism is the sweetest reward!

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Peppered with Sweet Presents

Sugar cookies iced with delicate features come to life; chocolate snow caps shake off a light dusting of powdered sugar to reveal cacao crevasses; peanut butter blossoms bloom in the dead of winter. Christmastime is cookie time, and everyone has a favorite. Taste memories are intrinsically linked with these cherished, traditional flavors, which makes it hard to break away and try something new.

What if I told you there was a way to satisfy the craving for nostalgia, while still feeding the desire for adventure? Small twists on established crowd-pleasers make sure that everyone walks away happy. Besides, in the case of my Chocolate Pfeffernüsse, who’s ever complained about adding in some extra chocolate?

German “pepper nuts” are basically soft, anise-forward gingerbread bites with a hint of alluring cardamom that lingers like a sweet memory. Condensing a world of flavors into such small packages, these classic holiday treats are long overdue for a modern revival.

This year, I have Rodelle helping me make that comeback possible. Their extracts and cocoa powder are essential staples in my pantry all year round, but they really shine when it’s time to bring out the very best treats for the holidays. You can taste that quality in every bite thanks to Rodelle Gourmet Cocoa Powder, Vanilla Extract, and Pure Almond Extract here. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t entrust such an important task to any other brand.

As if the boldly re-imagined morsels, blanketed in a powdery sheath of confectioner’s sugar was not enough of a gift, Rodelle has offered to further sweeten one lucky reader’s holiday with a GIVEAWAY!

You’ll be able to bake right along with me using the best possible ingredients. This generous bundle includes (1) 4oz Pure Vanilla Extract, (1) 8oz Gourmet Baking Cocoa, (1) 2oz All-Natural Vanilla Paste, and (1) 2oz Almond Extract. To enter be sure to follow @RodelleVanilla on Instagram, and find more ways to rack up entries below.

Rodelle Baking Bundle Giveaway

Everyone’s a winner here, because you can still enjoy these divine chocolate cookies no matter what. You might want to double the recipe if you plan on sharing, though.

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Better Than Butterfinger

Gather ’round and don’t be scared now. Conventional candy bars do have many frightful ingredients, reading like a chemistry experiment gone terribly wrong. Tempting with bewitching spells cast from sugar and corn syrup, even the strongest hero have occasionally fallen for their evil tricks. It’s time we beat those monsters back once and for all.

Butterfingers were original unleashed upon the world almost one hundred years ago and continue haunting hapless shoppers at checkout stands to this day. Escape from that dangerous trap because back in the safety of your home, we can make a real treat together.

Resoundingly crunchy, crisp throughout, and packed with deeply toasted nutty flavor, this recipe is more than just a resurrection of a past favorite, but a complete revival and revamp. Cloaked in devilishly dark chocolate, these rich, intense flavors would utterly slay the old phantom.

Originally featured in my now defunct eBook Wicked Treats, it seemed a same to let this gem meet such an timely end. If there’s only one treat you plan on making for Halloween, make it this one!

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Kiss and Tell

One small batch of nostalgia, coming right up.

For someone who built a career on sweet treats, my kitchen has been churning out distinctly savory dishes lately, with desserts far and few between. It’s tough testing so many sugary indulgences when you’re baking for one, and the pandemic has cut severely into my opportunities to share. Still, there’s no denying the call of cravings, a deep, undeniable, almost primal urge for the comfort that only a bit of sugar might bring.

Large pies are out of the question, as are elaborate entremets. Nothing too fussy, nor too perishable in reasonable quantities for a solo eater to take down. Most days, I can satiate those innate desires with sensible poached pears or macerated strawberries with softly whipped coconut cream, but there’s something about the ritual of actually baking that soothes the soul, almost more than the act of eating the end results.

To that end, I turn to this scant handful of treats that comforted me as a child. Impossibly picky, there wasn’t much I wanted beyond the basics, which is where these cocoa kisses came in. Meringues tinted with a hint of chocolate, my mother modified a recipe right out of The Joy of Cooking to create a cookie that was crisp, light as a cloud, but slightly gooey and soft on the inside. Perhaps it’s not the proper form for a true meringue, though who’s to judge when they were snapped up as soon as they could cool?

Bringing down the yield to a more manageable quantity, you can whip up a batch in minutes, and feel just fine about devouring them just as quickly. Anytime I feel that familiar craving for nostalgic sweetness, I won’t deny it; this is the kind of self-care that everyone deserves.

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